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23 May 2005 : Column 43W—continued

Supreme Court

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what progress she has made in establishing a permanent home for the new Supreme Court. [83]

Harriet Harman: The Government have appointed the team to turn Middlesex Guildhall into the new UK Supreme Court. Project managers Drivers Jonas and lead architects Feilden and Mawson, supported by Foster and Partners, were selected following a competitive tender. This team are now taking forward the project to design and refurbish Middlesex Guildhall.
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Ball-bearing Guns

13. Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will undertake a review of the legislation relating to ball-bearing guns; and if he will make a statement. [15]

Hazel Blears: Controls are already in place to tackle the misuse of ball-bearing guns which are more accurately known as airsoft guns and which fire plastic pellets. It is an offence to possess them in a public place without reasonable excuse. We wish to go further and will be introducing tougher laws on the sale and manufacture of all imitation firearms in the proposed Violent Crime Reduction Bill.

British Crime Survey

14. Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of public confidence in the British Crime Survey. [16]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The Office for National Statistics has recently made an assessment of public confidence in British official statistics. It found that the statistical quality of official publications was considered to be good and to rival the best in the world, and in particular that there was considerable confidence in the methodologies used to produce official statistics and their accuracy.

The 2003–04 British Crime Survey shows that just under two-thirds (65 per cent.) of the general public thought crime in the country as a whole had gone up in the previous two years. This is lower than found in 2002–03, when almost three-quarters (73 per cent.) reported that they thought crime in the country as a whole had increased over the previous two years.

Statistics from the British Crime Survey (BCS) are released quarterly under the National Statistics protocol. The BCS was reviewed in 2000 and all recommendations from that review have been implemented.

Community Service

16. Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his policy is on requiring young offenders to wear uniforms while on community service. [18]

Hazel Blears: It is important that the community are able to see that people who have committed an offence are putting something back into their communities. Offenders wearing bibs or sweatshirts or a plaque highlighting the work could make their activity more visible.

Community service and reparation is already used for offenders—but is not always visible to the public, and is not always put in place swiftly enough after the offence is committed. This needs to happen if we are to better reassure communities and deter offenders.

Antisocial Behaviour

17. Andrew Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on how he plans to tackle antisocial behaviour. [19]

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Mr. Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he plans to take to encourage communities to tackle antisocial behaviour. [17]

Hazel Blears: The TOGETHER campaign was set up to ensure that antisocial behaviour is dealt with swiftly and effectively by local services. The first phase was about equipping practitioners with the tools and the know-how. We have seen some good results: Nearly 4,000 ASBOs, over 150 crack house closure orders and over 400 dispersal orders.

As part of the next phase on the campaign, we will ensure we give the right help and support to communities so they know what they can do to tackle problems of antisocial behaviour and what they can expect from local services. More recently, It's Your Call (launched in 25 areas) means people can access services by dialling a single number. We are encouraging a cultural shift to encourage more people not to put up with antisocial behaviour, to signal that it is not acceptable and take a stand against the minority.

Licensing Laws

18. Angela Watkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he plans to provide local and police authorities with additional resources in response to the recent changes in the licensing laws. [20]

Paul Goggins: The Licensing Act 2003 sets out a series of measures which help the police and local authorities to better tackle alcohol-related crime and disorder.

The Act will streamline the licensing system with an enhanced annual saving of up to £15 million which could be diverted to frontline policing. The new licensing fees structure will also provide extra funding for inspection and enforcement.

Re-offending Rates

19. Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment his Department has made of re-offending rates after community sentencing. [21]

Fiona Mactaggart: Since 2000, we have collected data which can separately track reconviction rates for offenders who have served community sentences. The first results for adults show a reduction of 1 per cent. in
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the two-year rates and the latest results for young offenders show a reduction of 1 per cent. in the one-year rate. The next results, for adults, are expected to be available in July.

People Trafficking

20. Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on Government action to counter people trafficking. [23]

Paul Goggins: The Government have a comprehensive strategy for tackling trafficking in human beings which includes prevention, legislation, law enforcement, international co-operation and the support of victims. Human trafficking will be a priority during our EU presidency and is on the agenda for the G8 summit. The Government provide £20 million per year to Reflex, the multi-agency task force which co-ordinates the enforcement response to organised immigration crime, including people trafficking.

Identity Cards

21. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his latest estimate is of the total cost of implementing the Government's plans for identity cards. [24]

Andy Burnham: The costs of registering and issuing identity cards and biometric passports to UK nationals and the running of the identity verification service was published when the Identity Cards Bill was introduced in the last Parliament.

We have said that we will keep Parliament informed as our work on the costs of the scheme progress. We will provide updated information when the legislation promised in the manifesto is introduced to Parliament.

Prison Places

22. Mr. Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans the Government have to increase the number of prison places. [25]

Fiona Mactaggart: The Government have increased the number of prison places by around 17,000 since 1997 to the current useable operational capacity of 77,107. We plan to increase this by nearly a further 3,300 to around 80,400 in 2007.